Samar Badawi detained since July 2018 as part of Saudi authorities’ crackdown on human rights defenders

Samar Badawi detained since July 2018 as part of Saudi authorities’ crackdown on human rights defenders

In recent years, human rights defender Samar Badawi has been subjected to reprisals repeatedly by the Saudi authorities for her peaceful activism. In July 2018, she was arrested by members of the Mabahith intelligence service from her home in Jeddah amid a wave of arrests targeting human rights defenders in the country.
Latest Updates
May 1, 2020: MENA Rights Group refers case to the Secretary-General on intimidation and reprisals for cooperation with the UN in the field of human rights.
September 9, 2019: Case is mentioned in the Secretary-General’s 2019 report on reprisals.
May 1, 2019: MENA Rights Group raises case with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights ahead of the preparation of the Secretary-General’s 2019 report on reprisals.
July 30, 2018: Arrested by members of the Mabahith intelligence service from her home in Jeddah.
February 2017: Called in for questioning, held for several hours before being released.
January 2016: Arrested and interrogated, released a few hours later.
2015: Receives Hrant Dink Award.
December 3, 2014: Prevented from boarding flight to Belgium to participate in a human rights forum, informed that a travel ban had been issued against her for an indefinite period.
September 2014: Delivers statement at 27th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
2012: Badawi among recipients of U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award.

Samar Badawi is a human rights defender who has been targeted repeatedly by the Saudi authorities for her peaceful activism. She advocates for women’s rights, civil and political rights, and the release of her brother, Raif Badawi, as well as her ex-husband, Waleed Abu Al Khair.

Badawi was among the recipients of the U.S. State Department’s 2012 International Women of Courage Award for her work defending women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. She was also a recipient of the 2015 Hrant Dink Award.

In September 2014, Badawi delivered a statement at the 27th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. She reportedly received threats for raising the case of Waleed Abu Al Khair before the HRC. A few months later, on December 3, 2014, Badawi was prevented from boarding a flight to Belgium to participate in a human rights forum by security officials at King Abdulaziz International Airport, and was informed that a travel ban had been issued against her for an indefinite period. The UN Secretary-General raised these acts of reprisal against Badawi in his 2015 report on reprisals against individuals who cooperate with the UN in the field of human rights.

In the years that followed, on multiple occasions, Badawi was detained and interrogated for several hours by the authorities before being released the same day.  

On July 30, 2018, at around 1 a.m., members of the Mabahith intelligence service arrested Badawi from her home in Jeddah without an arrest warrant and without informing her of the reasons for her arrest. They took her to an unknown location, where she remained in incommunicado detention for approximately one month before being allowed contact with her family. Badawi was among the women who faced sexual harassment, torture and other forms of physical and psychological ill-treatment during interrogation.

On June 27, 2019, Badawi was brought to trial before the Criminal Court, alongside several other women’s rights activists, in relation to charges under the Cybercrime Law. Her appearance before the court was the first since her arrest and there is no indication that legal representation was present.

It is reported that the prosecution is calling for a five-year prison sentence for charges against Badawi, which include “undermining public order, religious values, good morals and private life” and “communicating with journalists, UN human rights bodies and human rights organisations” including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and ALQST, groups described as “hostile to the state”.

Throughout the trial, Badawi’s hearings have been regularly postponed. Most recently, Badawi was scheduled to attend a hearing on March 18, 2020. However, her hearing date was indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

She is currently being detained at Dhahban Prison, where she is allowed regular contact with her family, but continues to be denied her right to legal counsel.